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The best series soundtracks of 2020

The best series soundtracks of 2020

Five days left until 2020 to end, a year that will be remembered forever for imposing a new lifestyle on us. We have faced a new normal life without social contact, losses and uncertainties. In a year that our social lives were banned, entertainment was our main partner and the best company. We were able to watch countless series, films and other television programs from home that had helped to go through, bringing some hope and joy.

I could marathon watching several wonderful series that will be forever marked in my memory as a maniac by audiovisual and professional of this area. In addition to many aspects that these series caught my attention, the soundtracks of some of them were fantastic, so you decide to highlight it through the list of the best series soundtracks of 2020. 

7. Unorthodox 

The story which inspired the Netflix series nominated for the Emmy this year is about a young Hasidic Jewish girl who seeks to find herself in the world. She lives under rough traditional and conservative codes, that control everything about her life, from the things she wears to the books she is allowed to read. Esty realises herself as a prisoner of her culture and inside a dysfunctional and unwished marriage, with a man she barely knows, without any pleasure or liberty. Then, she decides to run away and, she starts her journey seeking her real identity and freedom in an exciting adventure.

This series’ soundtrack mixes up Jewish music, underground electronic music such as “Unorthodox ” by Antonio Gambale, “Down in the basement” and “Thunder” by Catnapp, “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. By the way, Catnapp is the artistic name of Amparo Battaglia, an Argentinian music composer and singer who has been living in Berlin since 2015. She was caught by the director and producer to collaborate with the Netflix drama series soundtrack.

6. The Queen’s Gambit

The drama miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit” from Netflix, follows Elizabeth Harmon from her childhood in an orphanage in the mid-1950s to her adult life in the 60s, during her search to become a grandmaster chess player, while struggling with emotional issues and drug and alcohol dependency. The miniseries became one of the most acclaimed TV show around the world this year. One thing that maybe gets lost in the incredible series is how crucial the soundtrack is, often reminding viewers of the era or country we found our protagonist Beth Harmon in.

“The Queen’ Gambit” tracks includes many 60s classic songs such as “Comin’ Home Baby” by Quincy Jones, “Bert’s Blues” by Donovan, “Along Came Mary” by The Association, “Fever” by Peggy Lee, “Teach Me Tonight” by Nancy Wilson and Ron McMaster, and “Yeh, Yeh” by Georgie Fame & The Blue Fames.

5. Sex Education – second season

The British comedy-drama Netflix series follows the story of Otis Milburn, an insecure teenager who is ambivalent about sex because of his mother. She is a sex therapist who is frank about all aspects of sexuality. After inadvertently assisting the school bully with his sexual performance anxiety, Otis sets up a sex advice business with Maeve—a confident but troubled classmate—to help their fellow students with their sexual problems.

In the second season, Otis who, after finally securing a relationship with Ola, is hit with the reality and pressures of a high school romance. That romance is further tested by the introduction of new students who challenge the status quo at Moordale High and a chlamydia outbreak that causes students to question and struggle with topical issues.

The second season, as well as the first, also has 8 episodes and the musical rescues are still on the rise by the curators. It starts with one of the Scala & Kolacny Brothers version for “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls. Famous songs are part of the setlist as “Sexy Boy” by AIR, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Steward, “Everywhere ” by Fleetwood Mac and “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, “Cosmic Dancer” by T.Rex, “The Damned with Captain Sensible” by Happy Talk, and “ What Is Love ” by Haddaway. 

Melancholy comes up with “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground and, the beautiful folk song by indie superstar Sufjan Stevens “Mystery of Love” – was first written for the soundtrack of “Call Me By Your Name” – is also part of Sex Education soundtrack .

Sex Education playlist includes also “Love Is The Drug”, “Slip Away” by Clarance Carter. In the same dancing vibe, it has “Hold Me Down” by Thompson Twins who enters into a masturbation scene.

4. I may destroy you

“I may destroy you” was released in June for BBC one and HBO, and it follows the story of Arabella, a modern, independent, outgoing, millennial icon, talented writer and black woman, from the cosmopolitan London. She is a digital influencer that has become a writer after seeing her posts published as the book ‘Chronicles of a fed-up Millennial’. It led her to sign a contract with vanguard publishers to produce her second book. While she is struggling to write her second book under a deadline to finish a draft, she decides to procrastinate by meeting up with an old friend, Simon. They drink, they do drugs, and they have fun. At one point in the night, she starts stumbling and she blacks-out. The next thing she realises, she’s back in her agents’ office, writing her book, and she starts to have some flashbacks about what she had passed through the previous night. At this point, the conflict of the narrative is established: Arabella deals with the fact that she’d been drugged and raped at some point that night. 

To tell this story based on real facts, the series music Supervisor, Ciara Elwis opted to create a modern soundtrack that the characters themselves would enjoy. The soundtrack includes a lot of female hip-hop and gospel songs for Arabella character, some LGBT artists that Kwame -Arabella’s friend, a gay aerobics instructor – might have an affinity for. Elwis in particular centres on rising U.K. acts. Prominent slots are given to songs by British rappers like Little Simz (“Perfect Picture”), Young T & Bugsey, and Hardy Caprio (“Rapper”). Indie singers like Arlo Parks, Greentea Peng, and Oscar Jerome received high-profile placements as well. Some of the songs are “Firestarter” by The Prodigy, “Dance or Die” and “Suite III Overture” by Janelle Monáe, “Pink” and “Oblivion” by Grimes, “Something About you” by Daft Punk.

3. Kissing Game

“Kissing Game” (Portuguese: Boca a Boca), is a Brazilian drama thriller TV series created by Esmir Filho. It sets in a fictional ranch town called Progresso, and after a party, Bel (Luana Nastas), a girl wakes up the next day with a slightly different hangover. She was infected by a mysterious virus transmitted through her mouth, which hospitalises her and puts her life at risk. Other teenagers and Bel’s classmates such as Fran ( Iza Moreira), Chico (Michel Joelsas) and Alex (Caio Horowicz) who went to the rave and kissed her and other guys, start panicking about the virus spreading, while Bel’s body deteriorates at the hospital. They fear that they’ve got the virus, and their big secrets and conflicts will be discovered by the conservative population. 

The series soundtrack is progressive, modern and makes a contrast between the old fashioned habits of the population and the young citizens who represent the progress of a rural area in Brazil which insist to be stuck on the past. Gui Amabis, who is the music producer, selected pop and electronic songs, but also composed original songs tracks with synthesizers, and Brazilian instruments, such as strings and blowing horn (also known as the ‘Winding Horn’ or the ‘Blast Horn’) .

Some Brazilian songs are included on the playlist such as “Na garrafa”, by Troupe Chá de Boldo, “Te amo disgraça” by Baco Exú Do Blues, and a 100% original composition “Vamos fazer um causo” (Let’s have a story) by Letrux. ‘Kissing Game’ soundtrack has foreign songs on the tracklist as well, such as “Is It Medicine” or “Social Skill” by the Swedish due The Knife, “Faceshopping” by Sophie, “Come” by Mary Komasa, “Dusty Snow” Toni Tonga and, “Handsome killer” by Kindest Cuts.

2 – Pose – second season

“Pose” season 1 is set in 1987–88 and looks at “the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York”: the LGBT African-American and Latino ball culture world, the downtown social and literary scene, and the rise of the yuppie Trump milieu. Blanca Rodríguez, a trans woman, decides to open her own house, the House of Evangelista, to shelter young homosexuals and transsexuals who have nowhere to live, in addition to competitions organised in LGBT ballrooms.

The second season that arrives on Netflix in 2020 begins in 1990, more of the characters are now either HIV-positive or living with AIDS. Some have become AIDS activists with ACT UP, and everyone is now attending frequent fundraisers, funerals and memorial services for their many friends and lovers in the community that has been hard-hit by the AIDS pandemic. With the release of songs by Madonna, Malcolm McLaren, and others, some aspects of the ballroom dance styles begin to go mainstream, and members of the community find new opportunities as dancers and dance teachers. Others are working as dominatrices and strippers.

The track list of the second season is full of LGBTQ+ popular hits such as “Vogue” by Madonna, “It Must Have Been Love” and “The Look” by Roxette, “Venus in Fur” by The Velvet Underground, “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, “Fly Robin Fly” by Silver Convention, “Black Cat” by Janet Jackson, “Nasty Girl” by BLVD, “Pump up the Jam” by Technotronic “, “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’ Connor, “I’m Gonna Miss You” by Milli Vanilli, “It’s my house” by Diana Ross, “Flesh for fantasy” by Billy Idol, “Straight up” by Paula Abdul, and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester.

1. We are who we are

“We Are Who We Are” is a drama television series created by Luca Guadagnino – who created the acclaimed movie “Call me by your name” – for Sky Atlantic and HBO that was released on 14 September 2020.  It focuses on two 14-year-old American teenagers Fraser Wilson and Caitlin Harper who live on a fictional U.S. military base in Chioggia, Italy in 2016. The series explores friendship, first love, identity, and immerses the audience in all the messy exhilaration and anguish of being a teenager – a story which could happen anywhere in the world, but in this case, happens in this little slice of America in Italy. 

So here are all the songs that make the We Are Who We Are soundtrack so much like those previous teenage dramas—even as the series does away with their hyperreal, hyperbolic worlds. “Absolute Beginners” by David Bowie, “Reckoner” by Radiohead, “Let’s Spend The Night Together” by The Rolling Stones, “Jump They Say” by David Bowie, “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” by The Smiths, “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones, “Time Will Tell” by Blood Orange, “Arquitetura de Morar” by Tom Jobim, “The Love We Make” by Prince, “Why Must The Show Go On (2003 Digital remaster)” by Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey, and “Self Control (The Original)” by Raf, etcetera.

Photos Credit: Netflix; BBC / HBO; HBO / Sky Atlantic


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I am a script and creative writer, journalist, producer, and marketing content developer with over 9 years of experience in Media (TV / Film Production), Communication, Journalism and Marketing. I worked for companies such as MTV, Animal Planet, Band, Discovery and, Fremantle Media. I am from Brazil, but I've been living in Dublin, Ireland, since 2017. I am also maniac for entertainment and pop culture.
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